Post workout nutrition is a very important and often overlooked step. It has been proven to provide numerous benefits including improved recovery, glycogen replenishment, and decreased muscle soreness. Before diving into what post workout nutrition is, let’s break down each step one at time. I’ll do my best to keep things simple.
What is glycogen?
Our working muscles require energy to perform at their best which is provided from glycogen. Glycogen is made from dietary carbohydrates that have been broken down and linked together to form chains in the muscle tissue. When muscles are utilized during workouts those chains are broken down to provide energy. The more that a muscle is utilized the more glycogen is depleted until those stores are eventually completed exhausted. The feeling of hitting a wall is typically felt when that happens. Muscles are only capable of storing around 250-400 grams of glycogen. These amounts can vary depending on training status and dietary intake. In general that is around 1000-1400 calories from carbohydrates. So if you are not staring at the back of your eyelids by now, let’s move onto the more exciting stuff.
Why am I so sore after exercising?
Ever had that feeling especially after a tough leg workout that if you dropped something on the floor, the pain of having to bend down to pick it up just isn’t worth it? I know I have been there and it can be rather amusing to watch from the sidelines, especially if you attempt to pick it up. Muscle soreness is caused from muscles being damaged while working out. When those muscles are repaired they become stronger and depending on type of training, bigger. So until they are repaired muscle soreness could continue for days and days. I don’t know about you but I would prefer not being sore that long. I wish there was a way to decrease that soreness…
Alright so what in the world is post workout nutrition?
I’m glad you asked that question! After working out your muscles are primed and ready to accept nutrients needed for repair, energy replenishment, muscle strength, and growth. Just think of them as a sponge ready to soak up anything they receive. There is also a “window” that those nutrients need to be consumed by and it opens immediately after working out till around 2 hours after. After that “window” passes that sponge will not soak up those nutrients as well and be used for other things. Hello post workout nutrition! Now as a side note, post workout nutrition can vary according to exercise type/intensities, training status and body composition goals. So rather than bore you with the details of all the math and science calculations, let’s keep to that simple plan.
What should my post nutrition meal look like?
The best post workout nutrition meal should contain a combination of both protein for muscle repair and carbohydrates for glycogen (energy) replenishment.
A few meal ideas:
- Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables.
- Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast.
- Salmon with sweet potato.
- Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread.
- Oatmeal, yogurt, banana and almonds.
- Cottage cheese and fruits.
So to wrap things up
If you want to decrease muscle soreness and continue to have energy while working out, post workout nutrition is your answer. It doesn’t have to be complicated just remember to eat a meal containing protein and carbohydrates immediately and up to 2 hours after exercising. You will be amazed at how much more you are able to accomplish, including picking up things you dropped on the floor.
Until next time workout safe, smart and as often as you can!